Everything to Know About the Hazards of Calcium Chloride
Did you know that 18 out of every 100 full-time employees in chemical manufacturing died in 2018? These deaths resulted from a work-related event or exposure.
Most workplaces use some type of chemical, even if it’s only for cleaning purposes. For example, construction, food processing, and medical treatment use calcium chloride.
Do you work with any type of chemical? Do you know what a Safety Data Sheet is and how to use it? Keep reading to learn more about calcium chloride and the importance of Safety Data Sheets.
What Is Calcium Chloride?
Calcium chloride is an element in the salt family. The molecular calcium chloride formula is CaCl2. This means that it’s a combination of calcium and chlorine.
Calcium chloride can take the form of pellets, flakes, or granules. It’s white to off-white, odorless, and sinks when placed in a solution.
This element dissolves in water when heated creating a clear, colorless liquid. It’s also soluble in methyl carbonate, acetic acid, and ethanol. Calcium carbonate will stay in a dissolved state indefinitely.
Calcium Chloride Uses
You will find calcium chloride in a wide variety of industries. These range from construction to food preparation. The following provides examples of the role this element plays in our everyday lives.
Calcium chloride has desiccant properties which means it dissolves water. This benefits road construction by decreasing the setting time for concrete.
It also lowers the water freezing point. By dissolving water and making it harder to freeze, it decreases ice buildup and serves as a deicer. This is often the kind of salt that’s scattered on roads by salt trucks.
Calcium Chloride in Food
This salt has many applications in food preparation and enhancement. It acts as a firming agent by absorbing water. This helps to preserve canned vegetables and is key to changing soy curds into solid tofu.
Calcium chloride tastes very salty. This makes it a good replacement for standard salt in “low sodium” foods.
The body naturally produces calcium and chloride as part of its normal electrolytes. Sports drinks add calcium chloride to help replace electrolytes lost during vigorous exercise.
Many pre-packaged foods use this salt to maintain dryness. This helps to delay the spoiling of food.
The Oil and Gas Industry
Calcium chloride stops the swelling of clay. This is important during the water phase of invert emulsion drilling of fluids. It accomplishes this by increasing the density of solids-free brines.
Adding calcium chloride to “soft water” makes it “harder”. This is a common practice in swimming pools or anywhere that concrete holds water. The calcium absorbs into the concrete which slows erosion.
It also improves processes at wastewater treatment plants.
In medicine, calcium chloride provides treatment for low calcium levels. This may cause tetany which is a severe and sustained contraction of muscles. It’s also used as an anti-moisture agent in the manufacture and storage of medications.
Calcium Chloride Hazards
Calcium chloride is classified as an “irritant”. This means that is causes symptoms ranging from swelling and pain to burns.
When you heat calcium chloride, it decomposes. This process causes the emission of hydrogen chloride fumes which are toxic. If inhaled, it can cause irritation or damage to the nose and throat.
Direct contact of the salt on the skin can result in irritation or even superficial burns. When calcium chloride is added to hot water it causes violent boiling. This presents another risk of burn injuries.
Ingesting calcium chloride is a serious safety and health risk. It can cause burns to the mouth, throat, and stomach. This can lead to vomiting, extreme thirst, stomach pain, and low blood pressure.
Sometimes, manipulation of this salt can create dust particles. If this material comes in contact with the eyes it can cause irritation. A more serious consequence is a transient corneal injury.
In extreme cases of exposure, individuals have experienced heart and breathing problems. There are also reports of people having seizures due to calcium chloride exposure.
What Is a Safety Data Sheet (SDS) Sheet?
The Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) mandates that all manufacturers, distributors, and importers provide SDSs. This applies to all chemicals deemed as hazardous to users.
The Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) dictates the minimum amount of information to include on safety data sheets. The author of the SDS may also include additional information as necessary.
The first through eighth sections contain general chemical information. This includes chemical identification, composition, hazards, safe handling practices, and emergency response. Workers must know about SDSs and how to locate information quickly in case of an adverse event.
Sections 9 to 11 and 16 provide more specific technical and scientific information. For example, physical and chemical properties, exposure control, and toxicology data. It also explains the chemical stability and reactivity.
All SDSs must include the date of preparation and the last date of revision. If the author can’t find information about a required element that needs an explanation, the statement should reflect that they weren’t able to locate relevant data.
The UN Globally Harmonized System (GHS) requires information in sections 12 to 15. This contains ecologic, transportation, regulatory, and other information. It also includes a section on disposal considerations.
OSHA considers these sections non-mandatory. Yet, OSHA and GHS agree that it’s imperative for all employers to maintain an updated SDS library.
Are You Looking for Hazardous Materials Management Solutions?
If your business handles calcium chloride or other hazardous chemicals, you must maintain current SDSs. This can be a daunting task. At KHA™ we have solutions to manage all your SDS needs. Our solutions help you meet this growing demand for achieving and documenting compliance. Contact us today to schedule a product demonstration.